All the tears and pleas that parents put up with to make sure their kids get a flu shot appear to be worth it.
A new federal study shows that flu vaccination significantly reduces a child’s risk of dying from influenza. In fact, getting a flu shot cut the risk of dying from flu-related complications by nearly 65 percent among healthy children, according to the study published in Pediatrics. Kids who have high-risk medical conditions saw their risk decrease by 51 percent.
More deaths can be prevented by vaccinating more children, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Every year, CDC receives reports of children who died from the flu,” said Brendan Flannery, PhD, lead author of the study. “This study tells us that we can prevent more of these deaths by vaccinating more. We looked at four seasons when we know from other studies that the vaccine prevented flu illness, and we found consistent protection against flu deaths in children.”
Researchers estimated how effective the vaccine was at preventing flu-related deaths by comparing the vaccination status of children who died from flu to comparison groups of children.
The study supports the current recommendation for all children age 6 months and older to get a flu shot, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Since 2004, the number of influenza-associated deaths among children younger than 18 has ranged from 37 in the 2011-2012 season to 358 during a 2009 pandemic.
During this year’s flu season, 77 children have died as of mid- April from flu-related complications.
Sources: CDC , AAP news releases